When my daughter passed away, I knew that I wouldn't watch her grow up. What this ended up looking like, predominantly, was emptiness.
I knew I would never see the toothless grins or hear the giggles coming from that grin. I would never see her determinedly roll over, see the excitement on her face of being able to crawl across the floor after siblings and pets, or watch those cautious first steps. She would never be able to run through the house as we're playfully chasing her around.
As holidays approach, you feel the emptiness where your child should be. I never got to see my grandparents holding her during dinner on Thanksgiving, her exploring the massive tree my mom puts up in the family room on Christmas, or her sitting at the kids table during family togethers with her cousins. We never got to do Halloween costumes or Easter Baskets for her. On Mother's and Father's Day, she isn't physically present to do fun things with our family.
There are times where I look at my children and can feel that empty space. I see the other things, things that nobody thinks of, that we were robbed of with Mary Beth. I never got to see her in school performances with classmates, never got to celebrate the first and last days of school, or take her shopping for new school clothes with her sisters. When shopping, I wonder if she would have the eclectic fashion sense that her little sister has, the more laid-back blase style of her older sister, or the fashionista style of her oldest sister. We never got to teach her how to ride a bike or even buy her one. We never will have the chance to see if she liked playing in the water. She never got the chance to go sled riding with us or build a snowman. She never got to experience painting her nails and using our make up to try to get fancy with her sisters.
Not only did we miss out on these fun childhood things, but, we're going to miss everything that occurs during the pre-teen and teen years. I'll never teach her how to shave her legs or argue with her over inappropriate training bras. There won't be any figuring out classes in school or any extra-curricular activities. I'm left to wonder what things would she be into- band, choir, softball, football, wrestling, etc. I won't get to deal with the "my mom is uncool" stage. We won't get to teach her how to drive or help buy her a car. There will be no sleep-overs with her friends or first boy/girlfriends or having to comfort her after her first heart-break. There won't be first jobs. We won't get to help her figure out her homework. She won't be here for any of our notorious late-night Walmart trips. There won't be any of her friends walking into our home saying, "Hey, Mom!". I won't get to go shopping for Homecoming or Prom or helping her get ready for these. We won't get to schedule senior pictures with my cousin.
As an adult, we won't be helping her figure out college, if she would have been interested in it. Would she of wanted to go in the military? There won't be any engagements or marriage, if that would have been on the table. There will never be grandbabies or grandfurbabies. I'm going to miss out on her talking with me while trying to figure out her future. There is someone out there that will never be part of our family because she isn't here.
We've lost more than milestones, we've lost an entire person worth of experiences and a chunk of our future. There's so much that was taken from her, us, and our family due to her death. We will never get that life back.
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
Monday, July 3, 2017
Being immersed in the world that I am, stories of loss either come to my attention or are brought to my attention. After I read these, I peruse comments. I am oftentimes brokenhearted for the parents that are sure to one day see these terrible things that are written about them. I've seen the horrible comments that people have made placing all the blame for my daughter on me. The things that have been said, I can assure you, are not things that I haven't dwelled upon or felt since that day.
As a human being that wears these shoes, I can assure you that your criticism has a negative impact upon me, even if I don't know you. I have blamed myself since the day she passed away. I wonder if I could have done this or that different. Looking back, I know I could have done something different. I wonder what kind of mother that I am even though those around me tell me that I'm a good mom. It seems that the moms that stay calm and speak in matter-of-fact tones are criticized for not falling apart or freaking out. Let me assure you that those times come, even if you don't feel it when it happens. This is shock, the body and brain go into protection mode. I remember feeling such disbelief that this was happening, I couldn't wrap my brain around it. It's normal for a person going through a trauma to just shut down. Losing your child is one of the worst traumas you can endure.
When a mother chooses to share her story with you, or anyone for that matter, she's sharing her vulnerable heart with you. As a human being, you should feel almost obligated to do what you can to not injure that heart further. Look at it as an open wound. If someone you knew had an open wound that was trying to heal, would you help bandage it to protect it and help it heal or would you injure it further and prevent healing?
Though some of us have chosen to speak out, it's vital to remember that some women can't whether it's due to the emotional/mental aspect or due to the social aspect. I cannot stress how difficult that it is to stand up and say that your child's death was preventable and that you accept responsibility for the choice you made. That was one of the hardest things that I had ever done. I live with this realization every day and I wouldn't wish it upon any other mother. For some, they cannot speak up because their "support network" would turn on them causing them to lose people they value. Though some prefer that mothers share to help prevent deaths, many cannot fathom what is at stake should they choose to go this route. Of course, if they decide to, they can find support with mothers like myself and the friends I have. This should never be expected of them though. We should accept their decision in how they choose to approach the topic.
The ways in which moms are treated directly correlates to the silence that occurs after a death. Sadly, this is the example that other mothers see as well, so nobody will want to say anything about their child's death. If the death was preventable, this means there will be less women wanting to share or make a difference. How can babies be saved when the mothers are blamed and shamed into silence? They can't and won't.
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